John Gardner at Home

Memories from Dalia Baker

The only way we know John is as our beloved son-in-law, an adored husband to Jennifer, a devoted father to Audra and loving stepfather to Annika and Henrik.

John’s generosity to us knows no bounds. He meets us at the train station or bus station in sun or rain and drags our suitcases to where we are staying. He makes train reservations for us, always finding good seats. He introduced us to the Two for One fare option on British Rail. He calls the train station ahead to let us in through a side door so we would not have to use elevators in the stations. Each time we visit, John has arranged for special assistance making our travel easy and stress free.

He always cooks spectacular meals, even in the middle of the week, when he has just gotten home from work. He makes fresh bagels for breakfasts on the weekends, He makes pizza dough from scratch and bakes five pizzas with different toppings all in one evening. He has introduced us to a myriad of the most delicious cheeses from around the world. He has even taught me how to cook gnocchi.

To observe him with Audra, Annika and Henrik, is to watch a master teacher at his best. He asks questions, he waits and listens for the answers, he explains, he gives examples, he plays word games for vocabulary development and math games for memorization of facts. I remember him playing Trivial Pursuit with the children when they were quite small. He asked the question, then he gave a general clue, then he gave a specific clue, When one of the children said the right answer, he was very pleased, he praised them, he said they were smart, he said it was a difficult question and they answered so well. He never ever reminded them that he had to give those extra clues.

John always encourages, finds a positive comment to make and praises when things go well. And encourages the child find a solution or answer. His students may also appreciate this about John. But it has been most important for his children.

One of my favorite memories of John was three weeks after their wedding when we were back in Oxford, John and Jenny were sitting on the couch. We came into the room and John suddenly said, "Come closer, I want you to meet someone.” He pointed to Jenny and smiled, saying, "This is Jenny, my WIFE!!” John is always so proud of Jenny and is so happy to be her husband. And in John Jenny has found the love of her life.

The home that John and Jennifer have made for themselves and the children is in its essence an atmosphere of love. It is the air they breathe. it is who they are together.